Pasanna and prasada

Not all who study the Pali texts belonging to Southern Buddhism agree on all translations of for example the word pasanna. It is noteworthy that the word is clearest connected with the ancient Gandhārī word of prasan[n]a that morphed into the Pali pasanna ( Prasanna however remained intact as part of Sanskrit, or either, it flowed from it: prasanna — clear, bright, pure. One of the Sanskrit-Hindu texts speaks of prasanna with regard to the “tranquil limbs” of Buddha, which, according to this list is one of his “80 minor marks”.

There is the interpretation of the Pali concept of  citta-pasanna, a heart full of grace. Pasanna (clear, bright) occurs in the well-known word vipasanna which is loosely translated with “seeing clearly”.
Pasanna is also rendered as “flowing out, streaming, issuing forth”. In the late Pali text the Visuddhimagga (409) it stands for “happy, gladdened, reconciled, pleased”.

In the Pali Dhámmika Sutta Buddha speaks of the layman who cannot live the life of a monk because his duties prevent him from doing so. Nevertheless, says the text, if he joins in and shares the ceremony of upósatha (full moon recitations performed by the monk- and nunhood) with pasanna citta, a purified heart, a pure mind, he is well on his way to enlightenment (though possibly not in this life).

In the Aggapassadasuttam we find the sentence (bhikkhave – monks:) buddhe pasanna, agge te pasanna: Buddha is purified, be you purified (i.e. emulate this example).

The Diamond Sūtra, one of the two sections of the early mahāyana Prajña paramitā-collection has the Hybrid Sanskrit composite bhasyamanesvekacittaprasādamapi: allowing the well-prepared, well-purified (strain of) thought(s) or mindset to surface. In this sentence the well-prepared, well-purified or bright is a rendering of the Sanskrit prasāda (clearness, brightness, pellucidness, purity) which in Pali translates as passāda. It is almost identical with pasanna. Both concepts refer to a purification process of thoughts that lead to purified or clear faculties such as hearing more clearly, smelling more clearly, tasting more clearly (and hence making better choices in life). The early texts of Southern theravāda Buddhism show a number of occasions where this link between purity and the physical faculties occur.

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